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Briefing highlights

  • Vancouver: Dead last
  • U.S. delays tariffs on some Chinese goods
  • Stocks, loonie, oil at a glance
  • Brookfield in deal for Genworth Canada
  • U.S. inflation at 1.8 per cent
  • Exxon eyes quitting U.K. North Sea
  • Required Reading

Dead last

Vancouver has come in dead last in the latest global ranking of luxury real estate by consultants Knight Frank.

That second-quarter ranking – No. 46 of 46 cities measured – is similar to where it stood in the first quarter. One difference is that just 45 cities were ranked in the first three months, though that hardly matters when you’re last.

You have to remember that provincial and federal policy makers moved deliberately to cool down Vancouver and other housing markets.

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Toronto, in turn, managed to move up two spots, to No. 13 from No. 15 in the Knight Frank measure of luxury housing, or the top 5 per cent of the market in most cities.

Vancouver ranked last as luxury prices slipped 13.6 per cent in the quarter from a year earlier. But Knight Frank partner Kate Everett-Allen noted that its descent is slowing, with prices down just 2.4 per cent on a three-month basis.

“It remains a buyers’ market but the balance is tilting slightly as sales strengthen,” Ms. Everett-Allen said.

“Some local buyers are taking advantage of the price declines over the last two years and moving up the housing ladder,” she added.

“Across Greater Vancouver, townhouses and detached home sales increased by 32 per cent and 34 per cent, respectively, in July compared to June."

Toronto’s ranking was based on a 12-month price gain of 3.8 per cent. On a three-month basis, prices rose 2.8 per cent.

Leading the Knight Frank rankings were Berlin, with 12-month price growth of 12.7 per cent, Frankfurt, 12 per cent, Moscow, 9.5 per cent, Manila, 6.2 per cent, and Geneva, 6 per cent.

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At the bottom, just above Vancouver, were Istanbul, where prices slipped 9.9 per cent, Auckland, down 7.5 per cent, Nairobi, down 6.7 per cent, and Dubai, down 6 per cent.

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U.S. delays tariffs on some Chinese goods

From Reuters:

The Trump administration will delay imposing a 10-per-cent tariff on certain Chinese products, including laptops and cell phones, that had been scheduled to start next month, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said.

The USTR’s action was published just minutes after China’s Ministry of Commerce said Vice Premier Liu He conducted a phone call with U.S. trade officials.

Other products whose tariffs will be delayed until Dec. 15 include “computers, video game consoles, certain toys, computer monitors, and certain items of footwear and clothing,” the USTR said in a statement.

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A separate group of products will also be exempt altogether, “based on health, safety, national security and other factors,” it added, sparking a rally in stocks.

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Markets at a glance

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Brookfield grabs Genworth Canada

The private equity arm of Brookfield Asset Management has struck a $2.4-billion deal to acquire control of Genworth MI Canada Inc., the country's second-largest mortgage insurer, The Globe and Mail’s James Bradshaw reports.

Brookfield Business Partners LP, a publicly traded subsidiary of the global asset manager, is buying a 57-per-cent stake in Genworth MI Canada from the mortgage insurer’s American parent company, Genworth Financial Inc.

Brookfield will pay $48.86 a share, acquiring nearly 49 million shares in Genworth MI Canada. At Monday’s close on the Toronto Stock Exchange, the shares were trading at $51.46, near the stock’s all-time high.

Read more


U.S. inflation at 1.8 per cent

From The Associated Press: U.S. consumer prices rose 0.3 per cent in July, pushed higher by more expensive gas, medical care and housing. The Labor Department said the consumer price index increased 1.8 per cent compared with a year earlier. Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core prices moved up 0.3 per cent in July and 2.2 per cent in the past year.

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Managing economic immigration

From The Canadian Press: An international review of Canada’s economic immigration system suggests the country is doing well when it comes to how it selects and welcomes foreign workers. But the report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development suggests that some tweaks would be helpful to ensure the needs of the economy are actually being met.

CBS, Viacom in tentative deal

From Reuters: CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc. have reached an agreement in principle, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters, reuniting media mogul Sumner Redstone’s U.S. entertainment empire after 13 years apart. Viacom shareholders will receive 0.59625 CBS shares for each share they own, representing a slight discount to Viacom’s closing price on Friday.

Exxon eyes quitting U.K. North Sea

From Reuters: Exxon Mobil is considering an exit from the British North Sea after more than 50 years in the oil and gas basin as it focuses on U.S. shale production and new projects. Exxon has held talks with a number of North Sea operators in recent weeks to gauge interest in some or all of its assets, which could fetch up to $2-billion, according to three industry sources with knowledge of the matter.

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Yuan at right level: Official

From Reuters: China’s yuan is at an appropriate level currently and two-way fluctuations in the currency will not necessarily cause disorderly capital flows, a senior official at the People’s Bank of China told Reuters.

Required Reading

Pattison bets on upswing

Jim Pattison is betting on an upswing in the forestry sector as he offers $981.7-million to take full control of lumber company Canfor Corp., a bid that sparked a rally in beaten-down share prices of Canfor and other Canadian producers. Brent Jang reports.

Inside CannTrust

As the fate of CannTrust Holdings Inc. hangs in the balance, it’s clear internal strife only served to help tear the company apart from the inside, columnist Jeffrey Jones writes.

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Air Canada hikes price

Air Canada’s move to hike its price for Transat A.T. Inc. came after weeks of calls and meetings with investors who said they would reject the takeover attempt unless they got more for their shares. Eric Atkins reports.

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